Match report by Rod Elis-
Leatherhead 4 Raynes Park Vale 1
Leatherhead moved up to third place in the league with a resounding 4-1 victory against promotion rivals RaynesPark Vale at Fetcham Grove on Tuesday evening.
The Tanners ground staff and volunteers worked wonders to get the match on following the recent widespread flooding, but the pitch looked firm under foot from start to finish.
Leatherhead made the perfect start against their highly-respected opponents, opening the scoring in their first attack with less than 40 seconds played. Tyler Cox received the ball on the edge of Vale’s penalty area and seeing a gap in the visitors’ defence, drove it home through a crowd of players.
Trevan Robinson almost doubled Tanners’ lead three minutes later when Alpha Diallo sent a well-directed pass into the box from the right. Robinson lined up toshoot but the ball struck him on his thigh and the chance was lost.
A pulsating first half saw a series of end to end clashes with both sides having opportunities to score. With less than five minutes played, Vale striker Jake Gallagher leapt up high to head the ball just over the bar for visitors.
Vale failed to close down another confident attack from the hosts as Robinson fired wide on 15 minutes. And two minutes later, Robinson forced a fine save from goalkeeper Billy Bishop as Leatherhead searched for a second goal.
Raynes Park continued to threaten at the other end. Brad Sweeney had a shot turned behind for a corner before former Tanners centre-back Jerry Nnamani headed over for Vale on 20 minutes. Callum McAllister produced a fine turn and shot for the visitors with the ball going just wide of the post. But Vale’s persistence paid off with an equaliser on 38 minutes.
Aaron Lamont delivered a probing free kick to the far post. A Leatherhead defender failed to clear and the ball fell invitingly to Charlie Penny to head home unchallenged.
But any sense that the tide might be turning in Vale’sfavour was short-lived, as Leatherhead restored their one-goal advantage three minutes later with a wonderstrike from their stand-in skipper.
Fabio Saraiva received the ball well outside the visitors’ box, and before anyone could close him down, drove itfirmly into the corner of the net from 30 yards.
Tanners continued to press the Vale defence in the second half, with Saraiva forcing a fine block from Bishop, Robinson firing over from twelve yards and Cox blasting another effort high and wide.
On 57 minutes Bishop made an excellent save, diving low to his right to deny Leatherhead’s Daniel Hector.
The hosts continued to test the Raynes Park keeper. Bishop denied Cox with a good block before makinganother spectacular diving save to keep out a goal-bound effort from Saraiva.
Leatherhead added a third goal on 75 minutes after a fine build up initiated by Michael Elechi. The Tanners wing-back made a probing run down the left before pumping the ball across the penalty area, picking out Alpha Diallo on the opposite side of the pitch. Diallo sent a tempting delivery into the six yard box for substitute Tommy Stagg to poke the ball home from close range.
Leatherhead continued to press the Vale defence as the hosts pushed forward in search of a fourth goal. Stagg laid off a cross to an advancing Hector, who forced another fine save from Bishop, deflecting the ball behind.
Late efforts from Raynes Park subs Timmy Obisanya and Palace Francis tested Leatherhead keeper Mikey Allen,but the hosts managed to contain the visitors throughout the closing minutes.
Tanners will look to build upon this performance when they return to league action on Saturday with a visit to Northwood.
Leatherhead: Mikey Allen, Alpha Diallo, Michael Elechi, Jamie Splatt, Luther Williams, FikayoAtewologun, Daniel Hector (Rae Bailey-Allen 88), GhasSow, Trevan Robinson (Tommy Stagg 61), Fabio Saraiva, Tyler Cox (Omarr Lawson 75)
Raynes Park Vale: Billy Bishop, Nathan Lewis, Jerry O’Sullivan, Brad Sweeney (Palace Francis 77), Aaron Lamont, Jake Gallagher (James Dickson 46), Callum McAllister, Jermaine Green (Timmy Obisanya 58), Jerry Nnamani, Charlie Penny, Ben Dyson